The reason Mariners’ Ty France is so hard for pitchers to get out

There aren’t many hitters in Major League Baseball that are better than Mariners first baseman Ty France right now.

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Entering Wednesday, France’s statistics through 49 games make him look like a no-doubt selection for the American League All-Star team next month: .347/.420/.508 slash line for a .928 OPS, seven homers, 10 doubles, 36 RBIs, 23 runs scored, 175 OPS+, 178 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR. He’s also currently on a career-best 12 game hitting streak.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit. He is having a fantastic season and just continues to get better,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Tuesday about France during his weekly appearance on Seattle Sports’ The Dugout. “It’s been awesome to watch him play and the adjustments he’s made over time. This guy can just flat-out hit. The bat stays in the zone for so long, he’s able to cover so many different pitches … It doesn’t really matter what they throw or if it’s a good pitch. He usually gets a good swing on it.”

Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto went even more in-depth about what makes France such a tough out on the latest edition of The Wheelhouse, his podcast with Mariners broadcasters Aaron Goldsmith and Gary Hill Jr.

The way Dipoto sees it, how France keeps his bat in the zone while swinging – like Servais also pointed to – makes it especially hard on pitchers to get three strikes on him in a single plate appearance.

“One of the fun elements of Ty is that you can get him out in those big situations, but it’s almost always going to be if he gets up there and he attacks the first pitch and just puts the ball in play,” Dipoto said. “If he fouls that ball off (and) if that pitcher’s at-bat requires him to throw three strikes, Ty is winning that at-bat almost every time right now. He makes so many good adjustments during the course of an at-bat.

“Like any other hitter, he’s going to go up there and he’s going to ground out or pop up with it with that first pitch, but when he sees more than one pitch and they start trying to take him off the plate, over the zone, the bat is in there so long that he’s just able to do things. Sometimes it’s hitting a rocket into left-center in Toronto and sometimes it’s just inside-outing a ball to right field to drive in a huge run like we saw against Oakland. That’s the benefit of being able to wait so long to trigger your swing, and when you do, you can kind of keep the bat in the zone the way Ty does.”

That patience before triggering his swing was something that really jumped out during the Mariners’ series win over Houston last weekend, as he actually paused his swing and fought off a breaking ball from Astros pitcher José Urquidy, sending a ground ball up the middle to score a run in a 6-0 Saturday victory. For more on that, read what ROOT Sports analyst and former MLB third baseman Mike Blowers had to say here.

Dipoto sees a couple of legendary players from the 1990s and 2000s when he watches France swing, and he expects more national recognition is to come for the 27 year old.

“His bat is always in the strike zone, just like Edgar (Martinez) in that way. If you are the pitcher and you’re trying to stop the flow in that inning and just cut the inning off, when you see a Ty France or an Edgar Martinez, Moisés Alou, the guys whose bats just stayed in the strike zone for as long as theirs do, they’re a real pain in the neck and they tend to make crooked numbers happen in innings,” Dipoto said.

“… I think the world’s starting to notice. That first homestand when he was the the American League Player of the Week, he got a lot of play nationally. It’s not a secret that Ty’s good, and the other players in the league know how good he is.”

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